Reports Nicola Sturgeon is to put plans for a second independence referendum on hold are entirely speculative, a spokesman has insisted.
Expert Group To Advise First Minister On EU
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set up an expert group to advise on protecting Scotland's place in the European Union (EU).
The Standing Council on Europe is made up of specialists in the legal, financial, business and diplomatic fields.
Nicola Sturgeon unveiled the group during a statement to the Scottish Parliament on the outcome of last week's EU referendum.
She has said that "everything must be on the table'' to keep Scotland in the EU after the UK voted to leave, but the majority of Scots voted to stay.
Professor Anton Muscatelli, one of the country's leading economists and Glasgow University's principal and vice chancellor, will chair the group.
Ms Sturgeon said: "The Scottish Government's overriding objective is to protect Scotland's relationship with and place in the European Union. The Standing Council on Europe will provide advice on how best to achieve those objectives.
"More than 60% of voters in Scotland wanted to stay in the EU to protect the jobs, investment and trade that depend on it.
"We chose to be an open, inclusive and outward-looking society where other EU citizens are welcome to live, work and contribute, and we voted to protect the freedom and prosperity that comes with our rights to travel, live, work and study in other European countries.
"We now need to set out and evaluate all the impacts of the referendum result and all of the options open to Scotland to secure our relationship with the EU.
"The council draws on a breadth and wealth of knowledge and experience, comprising specialists with backgrounds in business, finance, economics, European and diplomatic matters, and it will encompass a range of political and constitutional opinions.
"Members will consider the impact of proposed changes to the UK's relationship with the EU on Scottish interests and advise ministers throughout our negotiations on the best way to secure Scottish interests and objectives.''
Members invited to take part in the Standing Council include Vasco Cal, former economic adviser at the European Commission, Dame Anne Glover, former chief scientific adviser to former European Commission president Jose Manuel Barosso, Sir David Edward, European Court Judge, economist Professor Andrew Scott and Fabian Zuleeg, European Policy Centre, Brussels.
Others include Charles Grant, of the Centre for European Reform, John Kay, an expert on financial markets, diplomats Lord Kerr and Dame Mariot Leslie, MEPs David Martin and Alyn Smith, Amanda McMillan, chief executive Glasgow Airport, Professor Alan Miller, David Frost, Scotch Whisky Association chief executive, former chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission Anne Richards, M&G Investments & Edinburgh University Court, Frances P Ruane, Irish academic economist, and Grahame Smith, of the STUC.
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